So confession time: I am a serial watcher of behind-the-scenes videos, bloopers, interviews, Wikipedia entries and essentially anything that gives me the assembly line scoop of a movie/show I fall in love with. My husband mocks me about this relentlessly. Because if fall in love with something, chances are, I am going to know its third most important actor’s first pet’s name.
I love discovering how things are made and the skill and art that goes into a finished product.
So it should not come as a surprise that I am a junkie of “Why I Write/Why I Started a Blog” type posts that bloggers tend to write at least once in their lifetime. To me, it is akin to watching an actor perform, who suddenly turns his head towards the camera and shares his innermost thoughts on the experience in that moment. I love this kind of self-aware introspection, the acknowledgment of the steam that runs the engine, a behind-the-scenes if you will.
So keeping in tradition with my obsession with the back alleys of production lines, I have decided to share my innermost crazy on the process of writing, its joys and its heartbreak.
Starting a blog is easy peasy. Keeping a blog alive is hard work. And I am a person with the attention span of a gnat when it comes to projects. So trust me when I say this, almost every week, this blog has had the same potential fate as the innumerable herbal plants I have tried to grow and successfully killed.
The issue is that 40 hours of my week are chowed down by the side hustle of a full time job. The remaining hours are chewed up by the spawn’s constant demands of being loved, and somewhere in there, I have to talk to the spouse too.
So when do I write?
In the mornings, I am usually unintelligible and prone to violence against chirpy people before 9 am. Sleeping late and skipping out on sleep is also not a valid option. So there are small stolen kisses with this blog, here and there. A night of going to bed late, lunch hour, a few hours on a quiet weekend. Usually, each Tuesday I am in panic mode because I likely don’t have a post ready for the self-imposed (and sometimes respected) deadline of Wednesdays. And then I see bloggers that post 3-4 or even more times a week, and I think to myself, I am losing at life.
The long form essay type style of this blog also doesn’t make things easier. Damn the deep thoughts, analysis and philosophical shit, I should just do quick product reviews on diaper genies.
Apart from the issue of time, or rather lack thereof, the other struggle of keeping up this blog has been of a superfluous kind.
I started writing at the age of seven. My first ever piece was a poem about chirping birds and winter turning into spring, and was published in a children’s magazine. Today, when I read over that poem, and the dozens more I would write in the following decade, I am reminded that we are who we are – we can change and deviate and adjust as time and life requires, but in essence, we are who we are.
If you have seen the “Photography” section of this blog, you’ll know that my obsession with spring and flowers and nature hasn’t simmered down till this day.
At some point, I made the switch from poetry to prose. However, I never learnt to shed the inhibition of revealing the true me by sharing these pieces openly.
But then the desire to make writing a constant part of my life became an overwhelming one. See, accounting just isn’t creative enough. It doesn’t get my juices flowing. I needed that creative outlet, and one that I could share. So this blog was born.
The thing is, to me, art is 50% effort and 50% audience. I am a believer of “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, it does not make a sound.”
It makes a sound only if some bozo was standing around and got hit by it.
So being an overachiever, I wasn’t happy with the progress of the blog at first. In the current age of virtual reality, likes, site hits and followers are the equivalent of pats on the back. So I started obsessing by how fast my blog was not growing. And while I knew all the rules for growing your blog: post as often as possible, write worthy content that incorporates key search words, network with other bloggers, use social media accounts to attract traffic, I found all of it tiring and time consuming. It honestly just made me obsessed and unhappy. The space I had created to give me the joy of writing was starting to give me acid reflux.
So I had an epiphany. This blog was never about creating a brand and making money. So what was it truly about?
The comedian Dave Chapelle once said, “My father told me ‘Name your price in the beginning. If it ever gets more expensive than the price you name, get out of there.’”
So I decided to name my price, to know what success meant to me in terms of writing. And success to me meant being happy.
In Neil Pasricha’s bestselling book “The Happiness Equation”, he talks about the “Success Triangle”:
“There are three kinds of success that sit on each corner of the triangle:
- Sales success is commercial success. Your book’s a hit. You’re raking in the dough.
- Social success is when you’re a success amongst your peers. This is critical success. You receive a nice review in the newspaper. You’re nominated for an award.
- Self success is internal. How do you feel about yourself? Are you proud of your own accomplishments? Do you feel deeply satisfied?”
So once I let go of the idea that I didn’t have the time, energy or will to do the things required to run a highly successful, lucrative and popular blog, I was left with a small, marginally successful, faintly popular blog that brought me joy and fulfillment.
Because any form of art is what you make of it. It has no expectation of you.
And then something odd started to happen.
I share my posts on my personal Facebook account and people started reading them. And following the blog religiously. And privately messaging me when a particular post touched them. The “Mother’s Day Special: Supermarket Flowers” post was one that seemed to resonate with many people and I received tons of messages about it. The small army of avid readers are not my mom, best friend or anyone else with skin in the game. They are people who wouldn’t be held liable for not following my writing if they didn’t want to.
And much to my constant and ever growing astonishment, a lot of them are not parents at all. Some of the keenest readers of this blog are singles who read a post, enjoyed laughing at the suffering of parents, and therefore were “Institutionalized”.
People started reverberating phrases I had written when they met me in person. People started referring to my kid as “spawn”. I started making deeper connections with fellow bloggers and developing a small but committed following of bloggers too.
So I know what all the “How to Make Your Blog Badass” articles say. And I am not one qualified to tell you how to create a highly successful blog. But my only advice is, if you don’t want to make money, just do what makes you happy.
If you want to make money, disregard me.
I am in a happy spot now. I write when I want to, when an idea moves me, makes me giggle, makes me think. I write infrequently but with a lot of passion. In between, I share my favorite photos. And slowly, gradually, I collect new followers along the way. It’s a slow, Texas style BBQ people.
So here’s to, quite simply, the love of words.